“A lot of people would have given up. He said, ‘I want to get better. I want to be a grandpa.’’’
It wasn’t the smoke, but a malignant tumor that was pushing on his vocal chords, Wild said then.
He identified it as squamous cell carcinoma, the kind often linked to Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.
Wild knew how to fight. An Army infantryman, he had fought in the jungles of Vietnam. His throat cancer went into remission in March 2008, but the same type of cancer showed up in his lung nearly two years later. The lung cancer, diagnosed in January 2010, went into remission in August that year, but returned this January.
By then, Wild had been living with a feeding tube from a separate medical problem. After the throat cancer had gone into remission, and Wild’s condition seemed to be improving, doctors discovered a bleeding ulcer in his stomach that nearly cost him his life, Brown said.
“He was a highly decorated veteran. He was a machine-gunner in the Army,” Lemmon said. “He was also in Vietnam and was exposed to Agent Orange. “He would get angry when he was thinking about the way people treated Vietnam veterans, but he never let that show in public.”
“I was just shocked when Shelby called and gave me the bad news about Jonathan,” he said. “He struck everybody as a really fine American and a patriot. He loved entertaining and he loved being with kids. He gave so much of himself. Oh, what a loss. What a loss.”
Jaime Wild said her husband never stopped having nightmares about Vietnam. On occasion he would talk to her about his experiences.
“He knew that if he needed to talk, or wanted to talk, I was always ready to listen. He knew that if people hadn’t been there it would be a hard thing to understand,” she said. “The nightmares continued with him. Until the day he died, he still had nightmares.”